Congress, Mayawati spar over BSP’s leftover Dalit vote share
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati Sunday retaliated strongly to the senior Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi’s statement in which he had castigated the BSP for helping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win Uttar Pradesh polls. Mayawati accused Rahul Gandhi of following his father Rajiv Gandhi in maligning her party and its leadership. She also advised Rahul Gandhi to first put his own house in order before blaming her. Rahul Gandhi on Saturday had accused Mayawati of dividing the Dalit votes and said that Mayawati did not accept his party’s offer of an alliance with her as its chief ministerial face. The Congress party and BSP managed to win just two and one seat respectively in the 403-seat Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
Narrative As the BSP stares at a possible extinction due to its declining fortunes, Congress desperately wants to reclaim the Dalit vote bank in Uttar Pradesh, writesAjay Jha Senior Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi’s Saturday diatribe against the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supreme leader Mayawati and the latter’s forceful and bitter response to it is a sordid saga of two political parties which had ruled Uttar Pradesh in the past and have inched closer to losing their relevance in the state. Rahul Gandhi had on Saturday blamed Mayawati for indirectly helping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win Uttar Pradesh elections for the second consecutive term last month by saying that she did not take up the Congress party’s offer for a pre-poll alliance between the two parties with Mayawati as the chief ministerial face. The blame game between the two parties is ironic as they had just about managed to survive, getting sunk as even together they stood no chance of making any dent in the BJP’s prospects.
The Congress party that ruled Uttar Pradesh for close to 35 years between 1947 and 1989 came up with its worst-ever performance by winning just two seats. The BSP, on the other hand, won a solitary seat. Mayawati had been the Uttar Pradesh chief minister four times in the past and has ruled the state for nearly eight years, her last term being 2007-2012 when BSP came to power with a majority. The two parties barely managed to keep afloat in India’s politically most significant state. The BSP’s graph came down from 19 to one seat while the Congress party came down from five to two seats compared to the 2017 elections. BSP had contested all 403 seats of the state Assembly while the Congress party had fielded its candidates on 401 seats.
Winning one more seat than the BSP, however, does not make the Congress party a bigger player as it managed to poll 2.33 per cent votes whereas the BSP polled 12.88 per cent votes. By no stretch of the imagination, the two parties, even if Mayawati had accepted the Congress party’s alliance offer, would have made any difference in the final outcome. While the Congress party had hit the rock-bottom in Uttar Pradesh politics long back, BSP’s fall has been sharp. In 2007, it won 206 seats, which came down to 80 in 2012 and nine in 2019. While as the largest opposition party, the Congress party despite its constant decline is here to stay, but the manner the BSP’s graph is tumbling down, the BSP may be fast reaching its extinction. The party has no structure and gets active only when elections approach. It had flourished by sinking its teeth into the Congress vote bank of Dalits and Muslims.
Its 2007 victory was made possible by successful social engineering when it managed to wade into the upper caste vote bank of the BJP, especially of the Brahmin community. The upper caste and Muslim votes have bolted from the BSP and its Dalit vote bank has got so badly fragmented that now it has become the first-choice party of Mayawati’s fellow Jatav caste. Of late Mayawati’s perception about an honest politician has been brought into question as the Damocles Sword of the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Department hangs over her.
Her health is also an issue as the 66-year-old is not only losing her charm but also her relevance, so much so that it may not come as a surprise to many that the BSP might exist only on paper in the near future. Seen in this backdrop, Rahul Gandhi’s attempt to defame Mayawati in his speech at a gathering of Dalits in the national capital on Saturday merely shows his desperation to reclaim whatever is left of the BSP vote bank, which once belonged to his party. While the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh have drifted towards the Samajwadi Party, BJP has made deep inroads into the Dalit vote bank of the BSP. While the Congress party wants to shore up its prospects, it stares at yet another rout in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and possible forced disappearance of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty from the leadership role in the party.
Courtesy : News9 live
Note: This news piece was originally published in news9live.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights .